I was bowled over, a rarity for me, by my experience of the Mass for the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker today in Carlow Cathedral. Memories of the removal of altar rails, pulpit, and the threatened removal of the High Altar, even memories of Supreme Court cases to save them, were swept away today as the venerable stones of the mother Church of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin witnessed the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, a sight that I am sure it was thought, they would never see again. It was a day for extraordinary things as the people turned out in extraordinary numbers. I stopped counting at 180 and there were plenty more beyond that. People came from Carlow, town and County, people from the Diocese of Leighlin and from the Diocese of Kildare, and further afield, turned out in strength of Faith, strength of hope and strength of voice. Time and again after Mass, they wanted to know if it was going to be celebrated again, where, how regularly. The answer, at least in this Diocese, is not an happy one... extraordinary.
Once again, we were graced with the presence and singing voice of the magnificent Miss Máire Mullarkey, who filled the cathedral vaults with the music of Heaven and led the congregation in once-familiar Gregorian Chants and traditional vernacular hymns. Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, O Salutaris, Pange Lingua, Adoremus in Aeternum rang out again in Carlow Cathedral. She rendered the Ave Verum, 'Queen of the May,' Críost Liom with consummate skill and with a reverence and discretion that seemed to fit the extraordinary nature of the day as it did the majesty of the day's Liturgical observances. A noted and professional singer we were privileged that she shared her gifts with us once again.
The celebrant was Father James Larkin of the Archdiocese of Dublin, the Metropolitan See loaning of her very self to her suffragan Diocese today. In his sermon he spoke of the dignity of work, and the tragedies of unemployment that we see in our own country. He said that in dedicating this day to St. Joseph the Church wishes us to understand that work is in God's plan that we provide for ourselves and that we fulfil ourselves in service to our families and our neighbours. He referred to the Gospel passage 'is this not the Son of Joseph the carpenter' and said that there seems to be a certain snobbery in this, as if the people asked how could a carpenter's Son have such wisdom. The answer is that, however people may set a social premium upon certain professions or kinds of work, all work has equal dignity in the eyes of God because its dignity is found in the fulfilment of our duties and of ourselves. Father Larkin spoke about the importance of devotion to Saint Joseph, a most powerful protector and patron of the Universal Church, and particularly, in this Holy Year of Priests, and since the Mass was offered for Priests, Saint Joseph's patronage of the Young Priests' Society, that helps young men to pursue their vocation to the Priesthood.
Great credit is merited by the Administrator of the Cathedral and the Cathedral staff, who were present throughout, giving every assistance and courtesy, and who made available the original Altar furnishings for today's Mass. Please God, we may speak as they do concluding the Passover celebration... Next year in Carlow!
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